Taking Up The Food Waste Challenge

Several businesses, non-profit groups, government agencies and commodity organizations are contributing to efforts to reduce food waste. Rod Bain reports.

It seems that the number of companies, organizations, government agencies, and individuals doing their part to reduce food waste in our country continues to grow.  Back in 2013 the Ag Department, and EPA began the Food Waste Challenge, in efforts to reduce the amount of food waste going into landfills and finding alternative uses.

Two years later Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this goal…”WE are indeed challenging the whole country to work towards reducing food waste by 50% by the year 2030.” And since that announcement back in 2015 thousands of participants have joined in the effort.  Fifteen US organizations and businesses and organizations were recognized in 2016 as the first class of US Food Loss and Waste Champions, for their steps in meeting the food waste reduction goals.  Dianne Holdorf is with one of the ’15 champions, the Kellogg Company, explaining one of the steps used by her company…”every single one of our plants around the country works with local networks to get that food waste out to farmers so that it can be used for animal feed.  That means that other food that’s grown doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to go to the animals, it can go to other uses, like food we eat as people.”

The Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service this year used it’s relationships within the food supply chain to develop a challenge-within-a-challenge.  AMS Associate Administrator Bruce Summers explains the Termina Food Waste Challenge; “We worked with the National Association of Produce Market Managers from all over the country to see if they wanted to work with us on it, and they were enthusiastic about working with the businesses on their markets.  So, actually through efforts of the AMS and these Produce Market Managers we got 83 companies to participate in this 90-day challenge.”  He says this particular contest resulted in over 1.6 million pounds of produce being diverted from landfills and being used in alternate means, from conversions to animal feeds, juices, or compost, to donation to local food banks.

Farm and commodity groups are also involved in similar challenge efforts.  Chef Dave Zino with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board says his organization offers a 30-day challenge to consumers…”What we do is set up consumers with tools to do inventory sheets, so by making small changes during the week you ‘re going to waste a lot less food.  Know what you have in your pantry, know what you have in your refrigerator, know what you have in your freezer, so when you go to the store is you make better buying decisions, utilize leftovers.  What we like to do is develop recipes, simple things people can do to not waste food and make a great contribution to eating what you need.”

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.